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Managing eye health with AMD

Updated: Jun 9, 2022



EYES AND AGING

Aging is a continuous process, and it comes with its peculiarities. While we like to celebrate our birthdays, the process of aging at a certain age may also mean significant changes in our visual system. For example, some people find a need for reading glasses, or may need drops for dry eyes, or may need cataract surgery to restore vision. Some others may find the need for regular medical care due to systemic disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Today, we will be discussing a particular eye disorder related to age. It is called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).


WHAT IS AGE-RELATED MACULA DEGENERATION?

AMD is one of the age-related eye diseases (AREDS), and it commonly affects people older than sixty (60). It is responsible for about 8% of blindness globally. There are two types of AMD - dry AMD and wet AMD. There are also three stages of AMD that include early, intermediate, and advanced. AMD is a disease of the macula where the fovea is situated. The fovea is the central part of the retina that controls central vision. A defect of the fovea affects activities that require central vision like driving, reading, typing, recognizing faces or signposts, etc. It could lead to eccentric fixations and can drastically change the lifestyle of the affected individual. It could negatively impact the affected individual’s quality of life. Some risk factors associated with AMD are age, genetics, gender, lifestyle, race, etc. Studies

have shown that aging, feminine gender, Caucasians, family history of AMD, smoking, increased blood pressure, etc. may be attributed to the progression of AMD.

AMD is a retina disease that is clinically marked with drusen deposits beneath the macula. The macula is the functional central retina that detects light, enables us to see fine details, and gives us our best color vision. Drusen deposits are cellular waste that accumulates underneath the macula layer due to the thinning of the blood vessels under the macula. They can affect the function of the retina and lead to vision loss. Progression of drusen deposits may result in inflammation, proliferation, cell death, swelling, bleeding, and scarring of the affected areas. These can cause vision loss, and it should be noted that progression varies for the different AMD stages and different patients.




SIGNS AND TREATMENT

Some signs of AMD include gradual, sudden, or partial loss of vision; a distorted vision where straight lines appear wavy; the appearance of spots in the field of view; difficulty in seeing in dark rooms, dim lights or poor night vision; glare, and blurred vision, especially at the central axis.

This defect may occur in one or both eyes and may be detected at home by the DIY eye exercises. An appearance of any of these signs requires a visit to your eye care provider. Staying healthy in this pandemic is important, and one sure approach is to communicate any health changes to your health care provider. Patients who have already been diagnosed with AMD need to maintain good eye health by following their eye care provider’s advice. Patients who take supplements like lutein and zeaxanthin should also

maintain a healthy diet to improve their eyesight and overall health. Current smokers should talk to their eye health provider about which of the supplement best suits their lifestyle. Smoking immensely increases the risk of AMD and exploring possible steps to quit smoking can be discussed with your healthcare provider. In general, before you decide on what supplements best suits you, talk to your eye care provider. A weekly utilization of the Amsler grid chart is recommended to help in monitoring vision changes. Some patients have reported that sticking a magnetic Amsler grid on their fridges or by their bed stands allows for easy reminders. It is advisable to communicate with your eye care provider and maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep your eye health in top performance.



Sources:

Amsler Chart to Test Your Sight. Retrieved from


NHS (2018). Symptoms Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd/symptoms/


Ruia, S. K. and Kaufman, E. J. (2020). Macular Degeneration. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560778/












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